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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Head Start hopes for long stay in latest home

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Sept. 3, 2003 -- Join Head Start, see the world.

Well, maybe just the Pecos area. But local Head Start employees and volunteers have gotten to travel around a lot in the past several years, as the pre-school program's home has been relocated when campuses of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD have been consolidated.

P-B-T ISD has shut down four schools and one sub-campus over the past six years, and Head Start has been relocated four times during that period to take advantage of the vacancies. The program, moved out of its original crowded building on East Fifth Street and into Barstow Elementary when that school was closed, then relocated to the former Carver Center, when AEP classes there were moved to Lamar Elementary, after that school was shut down.

The move from Barstow to Carver allowed Head Start to be closer to the homes of most of the children in the program, but lack of space again became a problem. Last year, after the closing of Pecos Elementary, Head Start was shifted to that campus, located across the street from the children's future school, Pecos Kindergarten. But that arrangement lasted only one year.

On Tuesday, Head Start for 2003-04 began classes at its latest location, Zavala Middle School, which was vacated when sixth grade classes were consolidated with fourth and fifth graders at neighboring Bessie Haynes Elementary. And this time, Head Start Director Linda Briceno said she hopes the program will be able to settle in at one location for a while.

"We love it," she said this morning. "The rooms are not as big as (Pecos Elementary), but the other thing is it's cooler here. Every room has air-conditioning."

New rooftop air-conditioning units and deck supports were installed just over a year ago at Zavala, as part of a district-wide modernization program. But with the relocation of sixth grade classes, the only other use the building was to have gotten was by seventh grade volleyball and basketball players, who will again use the middle school's gym for games this season.

"We used to be right at a central location, but I don't see any problems with being here," Briceno said about the East Ninth Street site. "The bus will start running here next week. The parents have been transporting the children here this week."

She said Pecos Elementary would be used for storage by the school district, now that Head Start is at Zavala.

"We're not completely finished moving the playground equipment yet," Briceno said. "The first priority was the classrooms, and the teachers did a wonderful job."

"We have a lot of space, also," she said. The Head Start classes are only using one of the two hallways at Zavala, while a playground area has been set up in front of the building.

"We have about 95 children enrolled, but because they need to have health screenings done before they can come in here, we have about 74 right now," Briceno said. "The parents are still getting screenings set up with their doctors, so hopefully by the end of the week most of them will be here."

She said the first day of classes on Tuesday at the new location went well. "We only had children cry for about 10-15 minutes. They've been adjusting real good since then."

The Pecos Head Start has 17 staff members, though Briceno said they're still looking for two teacher's aides and a cook's assistant for the campus.

"TWC (Texas Workforce Commission) has been sending volunteers over, and if anyone wants to come over and help us, we would welcome them," she said.

County unsure on joining suit against oil companies

From Staff and Wire Reports
Reeves County has been contacted about joining a lawsuit against oil companies operating in the Permian Basin, but officials have not received any firm details about the county's possible action in connection with the fraud allegations against the companies.

Counties in the area are teaming up and suing over 20 oil companies, claiming the companies perpetrated a fraud by underreporting the value of crude oil prices in order to reduce their tax burden.

"I don't know if we're going to do that yet," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo, referring to filing a similar suit. "We had had a presentation scheduled with some attorneys from South Texas, but they had to cancel."

Galindo said that he hadn't heard anything back from the law firm yet.

An Associated Press story in Tuesday's Enterprise said Midland County had filed suit against a dozen oil companies, while a story in today's Odessa American stated that Ector County has filed a similar lawsuit.

Ector County Judge Jerry Caddell on Tuesday confirmed the law firms of Susman Godfrey of Houston and Perry & Kellogg of San Antonio, which are representing Ector County, filed the lawsuit in the district clerk's office last Friday.

Susman Godfrey has filed one petition on behalf of Ector County, naming Exxon-Mobil, Chevron Texaco, Oxy USA, BP, Shell Oil Co and 18 other oil companies and any affiliated transportation companies as defendants.

Susman, the lead law firm, has filed identical actions on behalf of Pecos, Upton and Yoakum counties.

The counties are seeking an undetermined amount of actual and exemplary damages.

About 30 to 40 counties in West and South Texas are expected to file similar lawsuits, which by law, must be heard in the counties in which they were filed.

Midland County also filed its lawsuit on Friday. Midland County Attorney Russell Malm wouldn't specify the exact amount but called it substantial.

The lawsuit names Exxon Mobil Corp., Exxon Corp., Mobil Producing Texas and New Mexico Inc., ExxonMobil Oil Corp., Oxy U.S.A. Inc., Arco Oil and Gas Co., Atlantic Richfield Co. aka Arco Permian, ChevronTexaco Corp., Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Texaco Inc., Texaco E&P Inc., Four Star Oil and Gas Co., Texaco Trading and Transportation Inc., Texaco Refining and Marketing Inc., Pioneer Natural Resources U.S.A. Inc., and Pioneer Natural Resources Co.

The lawsuit alleges that between 1987 and 1998, the defendants, subsidiaries and affiliates knowingly underreported to the comptroller the market value of oil. Those prices would be used to determine state and local taxes on fixed oil interests in Midland County.

Suits filed in other counties make similar claims.

Reeves County is on the edge of the Permian Basin oil patch, in an area where natural gas production is more common than oil production.

Council schedules budget workshops today, Thursday

PECOS, Wed., Sept. 3, 2003 -- Town of Pecos City Council members will meet at 6 p.m. today and Thursday to discuss the proposed 2003-2004 budget.

The public is invited to attend the meetings, which will be held in council chambers at city hall.


PECOS, Wed., Sept. 3, 2003 -- High Tuesday 93. Low this morning 63. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Lows near 60. East winds 5 to 15 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 80s. East winds 5 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 60s. Friday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 80s. Saturday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. Highs near 90.


Finley Gunter

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